Order statuses and order management in WooCommerce

When a customer makes a purchase in your online store created with WooCommerce an order is generated that can have different states depending on what “moment” is the process of it.

For an online store manager based on WooCommerce it is important to know these order statuses and how to manage or even create them, and that is what we are going to learn today.

WooCommerce Order Statuses

As I was saying, an order status is an indicator that shows the status of each specific order, which will determine what will happen with the customer’s order, the actions that can be performed by the store manager and, ultimately, the status of the customer’s purchase.

So let’s see what order statuses we can find in order management with WooCommerce, to know what each one means.

  • Pending payment: The pending payment status is shown when the order was received but not yet initiated or there was a failure in the payment. You can also refer to it as “awaiting payment” or “unpaid order”.
  • Failed: You will see this order status when there is a payment failure. Sometimes when an order requires authorization to complete payment; it will show a pending status until verified or until authorized.
  • Processing: When payment is made but the order is pending fulfillment, it will show a status of processing. This is usually the default order status for the most popular online payment gateways, such as PayPal, RedSys or Stripe. It is not necessary to change the order status to completed because the payment has been successfully completed, unless you prefer to mark them as completed for order and management purposes.
  • Completed: When the order is successfully completed and requires no additional steps, it will be in completed status. No payment gateway activates this order status, which should normally be activated by the store manager.
  • On hold: This order status will be displayed when inventory is reduced but payment has not yet been initiated, either online or offline. This order status is usually shown when the customer uses a payment method that is not online, such as bank transfer, cash on delivery, check, etc., which require additional confirmation for payment. Only after the store manager has registered the order can the order be moved to pending payment status.
  • Cancelled: When the order is cancelled by the customer or the store manager. Some membership or subscription plugins can generate this cancelled order status when a subscription or membership is cancelled or terminated.
  • Refunded: This order status results when the store manager refunds all or part of the order amount to the customer, either automatically from the payment gateway or manually from the order management screen.

Other order statuses

In addition to WooCommerce, the plugins and payment gateways you have installed and active can add other order statuses, such as the following:

  • Identification required: this status can be displayed when the order requires the customer to identify the transaction. If the customer is from the European region, SCA guidelines must be followed, for example. It is not a default order status of WooCommerce but required by some payment gateways.
  • Generate Invoices / PDF Invoice: Popular PDF invoice creation plugins like Yith WooCommerce PDF & Packing Slips usually also add the ability to create this special order status in the batch actions of the order, next to the order statuses. Enabling it will generate the invoice and display (usually) the invoice number, with a link and/or icon to view it. This action is usually useful when invoice creation has not been automated in the plugin settings.
  • Generate delivery notes: Other plugins also allow the creation of delivery notes, also from the batch actions dropdown.
  • Ready for pickup: When using an order shipment system connected to a logistics operator you can display a status indicating that the order is ready for delivery by the carrier.
  • Awaiting material: There are also plugins that allow you to mark this status, or do it automatically, when a batch or package of products is missing some of the items.

And, if you need even more, you can easily create custom order statuses in WooCommerce.

Order status colors

If it is already easy to visualize the order statuses by their names, WooCommerce also adds colors to each status, to make it even easier to identify them quickly.

  • Gray – This will be the color to identify orders with problems. Gray is used for draft, pending, cancelled or refunded orders, as well as any issues related to WooCommerce or plugins.
  • Blue – Means that the order has been completed successfully, and no further action is pending, unless a refund is required.
  • Red – This is the status of a failed order, either because the gateway or payment time expired or the customer manually cancelled it. Gateways such as PayPal are usually the most common culprits of this order status, when the customer does not finish with the payment of their order.
  • Orange – This color means that the order is still on hold. This is the usual status, as I told you before, when you need to manually confirm bank transfers or verify payments.
  • Green – This is the color shown when the order is still being processed, and you, as the manager or owner of the store must manually change the status as completed, when you see fit.

Order actions

Having seen the order statuses in WooCommerce, let’s see what we can do when managing orders.

The first thing we will find in the order management screen will be the list of orders, in any status, and some immediate actions we can perform on them:

  • Edit order – Clicking on almost any part of an order row in the order screen (order name, date, price, address) will open the order edit screen, from where to modify all the elements of the order.
  • Move an order to processing status – We can move a pending order to processing status in several ways:
    1. By editing the order and, on the order edit page, modify its status and update the order.
    2. In the order list, by clicking on the icon with 3 dots in the actions column.
    3. In the order list, by clicking on the eye icon and, in the pop-up window, by clicking on the “Processing” button.
    4. In the order list, by selecting the checkbox of the order(s), then in the batch actions option choose “Change status to processing” and finally click on the “Apply” button.
  • Move order to completed status – To move an order to completed status we also have several methods:
    1. By editing the order and, on the order edit page, modify its status and update the order.
    2. In the order listing, by clicking on the icon a check mark (√) in the actions column.
    3. In the order list, by clicking on the eye icon and, in the pop-up window, by clicking on the “Completed” button.
    4. In the order listing, by selecting the checkbox of the order(s), then in the batch actions option choose “Change status to completed” and finally click on the “Apply” button.
  • Change order to on-hold status – Again we can take advantage of several possibilities.
    1. Editing the order and, in the order editing page, modify its status and update the order.
    2. In the order list, by clicking on the eye icon and, in the pop-up window, clicking on the “On hold” button.
    3. In the order list, by selecting the checkbox of the order(s), then in the batch actions option choose “Change status to on hold” and finally click on the “Apply” button.

Here are some screenshots of the different possibilities…

Edit an order

Editing to modify an order is an action that you may never have to do in your life as an online store manager, or it may be something you have to do every day several times, there is usually no middle ground.

It will depend a lot on the type of online store, but mostly on the products you sell.

Thus, an online store of infoproducts, memberships or similar, in which everything is automated, even the collections through online payment gateways, it is normal to never have to edit an order, only in case of a refund and little else.

On the other hand, in an E-commerce that sells all kinds of physical products, with shipping options, billing and delivery control, etc., it is normal to have one or more store managers who, daily, have to enter to modify some element of the orders, such as the status, customer data, attach files, etc..

No matter the reason, editing a WooCommerce order is easy, just click on the order ID on the WooCommerce order listing page.

An order identifier is a unique number, preceded by the hash symbol, which is generated automatically, and is not usually consecutive, as these IDs are assigned by WordPress as a whole, and not only to WooCommerce orders, but to all types of content. There are plugins you can use to break this behavior, if you need the WooCommerce order numbers to be sequential, to have an order.

Once you open the order editing screen you will find quite a few elements that can be modified or added.

Order details

In this section are all the data related to the customer and the status of the order. You will find that much of this information can be modified, such as the general data:

  • Date and time the order was created
  • Order status
  • Customer

These data can be changed directly in the window, the rest of this section, to make them available for modification you must click on the pencil icon next to each section (invoicing, shipping).

There you can modify the billing and shipping information, copy it from one to another, and even change the payment method used.

Modify or remove items from an order

If an order is on hold or pending payment you can add, modify or even remove items from the order.

To remove an item from the order just move the cursor over an item in the order and 2 icons will appear, one with an X is the one to click on to remove the item from the order.

If you want to modify an item, i.e. its quantity or variation, then you must click on the pencil icon. All the item’s data will be displayed, and you will be able to modify many of them.

  • Meta data – Here you will find the metadata added both by WooCommerce (description, etc.) and by plugins, being able to modify the current ones or add new ones.
  • Quantity – You can add or remove items. Adding or removing units will automatically modify the total and tax fields.
  • Total – You can manually modify the total amount of the order for that item, even if it is modified on a quantity basis.
  • VAT – You can also modify the tax amount, although I do not recommend this to avoid legal irregularities.
  • Add fee
  • Add shipping – You can add shipping costs, not initially contemplated, from those you have created in the WooCommerce shipping settings, but beware, you must keep in mind that these shipping costs will be added to the order total.
  • Add tax – You can add taxes not initially included in the order, which will also be applied to the order total.

After any changes you must save the changes and, very importantly, then “Recalculate” the total cost of the order, so that WooCommerce will recalculate taxes, etc. to the total order after the changes.

Add items to an order

If you want to add a new item to the order to start with, click on the “Add item(s)” button and then, occupying the same space, on the “Add product(s)” button.

You are going to be able to search for and add one or more existing products and add the quantity you want of each to the order from the pop-up window that will be displayed.

The products added to the order can then be edited, and as always, remember to click on the “Recalculate” button.

Refund an order

Have you charged a customer an incorrect price, do you want to reduce the cost of an order? There are several reasons to refund an order.

There are basically 2 types of refunds possible in WooCommerce:

  • Manual Refund – Once you enter the refund details you mark the order as a manual refund and you will have to send them the amount to be refunded via some offline payment method. WooCommerce will not automatically record anything beyond the fact that you have marked the order as refunded.
  • Automatic refund – If you use a native online payment gateway such as Stripe, PayPal or RedSys, properly connected via their API with WooCommerce, you will be able to perform an automatic refund using the same payment method with which the customer placed the order.

In the case of automatic refunds, they may be subject to additional fees charged by the payment gateway.

Downloadable product permissions

Another thing you will be able to do is to add or modify downloads to your order.

To add them you just have to search for a downloadable product in the search box and click on “Allow access“, and once added, or with those that already exist in the order, you can modify the remaining downloads, define an expiration date for access to the download file, copy the download link for the customer in case you need to provide it, or even view a report of all the downloads made by the customer.

Finally, you can remove the download by clicking the revoke access button.

Order actions

One of the most important boxes on the order editing screen is the order actions box, which contains a number of actions by default in WooCommerce, but can be extended by the plugins you have installed.

Referring back to the default actions of WooCommerce we can…

  • Send order details to customer – Sends the order summary email back to the customer, useful for example, to remind them that payment is pending, or some other action on their part.
  • Resend new order notification – To the administrator.
  • Regenerate download permissions – If they expired or the download threshold was exceeded.

To perform these actions you do not have to save changes or update the order, simply click the (>) button next to the action, once selected.

Order Notes

And we come to one of the most interesting and most underused tools in WooCommerce, the order notes.

The order notes in WooCommerce are a record of actions and messages, both automatic and manual, which shows everything that happens in the life of the order, that’s nothing. But they are also a communication tool between store managers and with customers.

There are 3 types of order notes:

  • Automatic notes – These notes are automatically generated by WooCommerce and installed plugins, recording any changes in status or actions taken regarding the order. You cannot edit these notes although you can delete them, you can review them in case of failure of some kind, such as payment gateway error messages, for example. Sometimes these notes are notified to the customer, such as when an order goes from processing to completed.
  • Customer notes – These are notes that you can use to alert the customer of the order of any eventualities or additional instructions about the order, coupons that might apply, . For each customer note you create, an email with the content of the note will be automatically sent to the customer.
  • Internal notes – You can use these notes for other store managers to view information related to the order, the customer or any other utility. These notes will never be seen by the customer.

As with order statuses, customer notes can also be differentiated by color:

  • Gray – In this color will be both private notes and order status notes.
  • Purple – System notes, such as those generated by payment gateways, will be highlighted in this color.
  • Blue – Customer notes will always have a blue background, to differentiate them from the rest.

Creating an order note is easy:

  • Create the note in the text area field.
  • Choose whether it will be a private or customer note.
  • Click on the add button.

Add a new order

Yes, you can not only create orders from the purchase of products by customers, you can also, as store manager, create orders manually, if necessary, either by some peculiarity of your customer, the order, or whatever.

Just go to the WooCommerce order list screen and click on the “Add order” button, and you will have all the fields ready to complete.

At the end of entering all the customer data, status, products and other information, use the order actions and email delivery to inform your customer that the order is generated.

A common step at the end of the manual creation of an order is to provide the customer with a URL for the payment of the order, something I already explained in another tutorial. And that’s all there is to it. The manual order will not differ from the rest in the following process.

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